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The Tinsmith by Tim Bowling

The Tinsmith

by Tim Bowling

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During the Battle of Antietam of the American Civil War, surgeon Anson Baird encounters a lone soldier named John whose calm and selfless actions make a deep impression. Working alongside the man, Anson realizes that John holds a dangerous secret which forges a strong bond between the two men. Twenty years later, Anson is called to provide aid to John who is now working in the cut-throat business of salmon canning on the Fraser River in British Columbia. However, when Anson arrives John is absent, possibly the victim of his competitors, leaving Anson to face the ghosts of his past.

Highly descriptive historical fiction, Bowling provides vivid imagery describing both the realities of a Civil War battle and its aftermath as well as the grungy frontier-like atmosphere of late 19th-century salmon canning settlements. Anson and John are both intriguing characters and while Anson is always an open book to the reader, John remains a mystery for much of the novel leaving us to wonder what happened prior to him encountering the doctor. As much a character study of what makes us who we are as an evocation of a historical period, Bowling weaves a tale that moves at a steady pace and explores how well we can truly understand one another. ( )
1 vote MickyFine | Apr 25, 2013 |
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During the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, Anson Baird, a surgeon for the Union Army, is on the front line tending to the wounded. As the number of casualties rises, a mysterious soldier named John comes to Anson's aid. Deeply affected by the man's selfless actions, Anson soon realizes that John is no ordinary soldier, and that he harbors a dangerous secret. In the bizarre aftermath of the Battle of Antietam, this secret forges an intense bond between the two men.

Twenty years later on the other side of the continent, Anson discovers his old comrade-in-arms is mysteriously absent, an apparent victim of the questionable business ethics of the pioneer salmon canners. Haunted by the violence of his past, and disillusioned with his present, Anson is compelled to discover the fate of his missing friend, a fate inextricably linked to his own.
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